Written by: Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh
Directed by: Charles Roxburgh
Starring: Matt Farley, Sharon Scalzo, and Kevin McGee
Reviewed by: Brett G.
Fear Freaky Farley!
The horror genre is full of outcasts and misfits that hover on the fringes of society; eventually they can only take so much of being poked at, and they snap. Itís a pretty well-worn trope that informed plenty of slasher and revenge films during their heyday. Enter Freaky Farley, the latest town weirdo who gets pushed to the edge of sanity after being picked on by an entire town.
Before he became known as ďFreaky Farley,Ē he was simply Farley Wilder, a happy-go-lucky kid with a pretty decent life. However, when his mom died in a car accident, his relationship with his father became strained. Forced to constantly dig and refill a hole in the backyard for minor transgressions, Farleyís adolescence was stilted by awkwardness; now in his twenties, heís still in the shadow of the domineering old man everyday. By night, however, he roams the town of Morgantown spying on all the pretty girls, but never talking to them. He finally begins to emerge from his shell one day when he meets Scarlett, a quirky girl who encourages Farley to explore the bizarre town with her. They even manage to roam deep into the supposedly haunted woods, which hold several deadly secrets.
This one is about as hard to describe as any other film Iíve encountered recently. The opening droning, synth score seems to be placing us back in the shot-on-video 80s era, but the film unfolds as anything but that. For much of its running-time, it feels more like a whimsical childrenís story, albeit with some dark undertones swimming beneath the current. The story is being delivered by Farley while heís in custody, so you know that the film is building towards something sinister. Before that happens though, weíre introduced to a bizarre and quirky city thatís full of odd denizens. Indeed, according to Scarlett, Farley is only the third-most famous of the bunch, as thereís also a town witch, a bearded hobo, and even a ninja that silently stalks the streets. And this is not to speak of whatís lurking in the nearby forest. Suffice to say, it makes for an offbeat experience; the promotional material actually compares the film to Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (and this is probably the only film in history that wants to be compared to it!), and it even references that filmís famous ďGarbage Day!Ē quote.
Though it might be as bewildering as that infamous Christmas slasher, itís thankfully much more competent. Youíll have to wade through the initial wave of weirdness and get grounded in the filmís odd tone, but youíll find that thereís a surprising amount of effectiveness buried in there. Farley himself manages to become quite a sympathetic character, and thereís something very child-like and innocent about his relationship with Scarlett. She holds up her end by being a cute, perky, and sweet enough to light up the screen and give Farley a little bit of confidence. The film works well as a quirky little comedy, so much so that the horror elements feel a little forced once we reach the third act. After unraveling as a quaint tale of a manís struggle to overcome his past, Freaky Farley quickly descends into an awkwardly-plotted horror movie that feels like itís trying too hard to be weird. The relationship that formed the backbone of the film up until that point is tossed to the wind, and the filmís final 15 minutes just feel tacked on.
Itís a shame too because thereís so much to like otherwise. Though the performances are understandably rough, our two leads are convincing enough to carry things. The production values are similarly solid, especially considering the film only cost $10,000 to make; proudly touted as being shot on Fuji film, the 16mm photography is nicely done. It captures the setting in a natural way thatís bursting with colors; thereís a nice fall atmosphere to be found, as the film apparently takes place near Halloween. Itís a fairly dialogue-heavy affair, but Roxburgh does well enough with the more action packed sequences. Furthermore, though the plot spirals a bit out of control, he maintains an off-kilter, tongue-in-cheek tone for the film, even when it goes into hack and slash mode.
Donít expect to be in the mode for too long, though. Thereís some bloodshed and some grue spilled during a climactic sequence, but this one feels more like a dark childrenís tale for the most part. If you go into it expecting non-stop, over-the-top slashing, youíll be disappointed; however, if youíre in the mood for a sweet little story about a strange, helpless bastard and his newfound friendship, this will be right for you. Motern Media released the film on DVD to a nice presentation. The widescreen anamorphic transfer replicates the 16mm print well, and the soundtrack is adequate enough. Special features include a making-of featurette and the filmĎs trailer. Though Freaky Farley purports to be a throwback to 70s and 80s horror, itís so subversive that it almost misses the horror mark completely. It tries hard though, and, much like its protagonist, itís hard not to smile at it and pat it on the head for its effort. Rent it!
For more information, please visit the Shock Marathons website.
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